This series will be a step-by-step guide to writing, publishing, and marketing a book...from beginning to end!
Writing a book is something that lots of people dream of doing. Chances are, if you haven't written one already, you've wanted to. You might've even come up with a few ideas, or a whole storyline. Maybe it hasn't gone that far beyond that...an idea. Or perhaps you've completed the first draft, and just don't think it's ready.
I've been there - trust me - and I want to try to use what I've learned over the past few years to help you! Now, keep in mind that these steps are based off of my own experiences, and are not meant to be gospel for everyone. You might be able to do things differently. If so, that's okay!
Step One: Don't Tell Anyone
So you've got a perfect idea for a book. You're excited! You want to tell everyone about it, it's so good.
Don't. Do. It.
You see, there are lots of ways to tell a story. You can write about it, or tell it to someone. Or make a graphic novel about it. Or write a screenplay, make a movie. The problem is, once you've told a story one way, you're much less likely to tell it any other way.
So when you tell your buddy about your newest story, you've already told the story. As far as your brain is concerned, it's done. The urge to write it...to spend months, if not years, typing away at a keyboard to create it, is diminished. Perhaps not gone, but lessened.
I felt the same way with any long-term goal. When I decided to train for my black belt, I didn't tell a soul. That goal was a fire that burned within, and by making it secret, it just made it stronger. I didn't tell anyone about my goal to get into medical school until three years into college. And I didn't tell anyone about my first book until the first draft was done.
Keeping things inside - keeping them secret - makes them grow. This goes for bad things, like personal trauma, bad feelings, resentments, and so on. But it also works for good things. I've learned to let the bad stuff out and keep the good stuff in...and I'm happier and more successful for it!
Now, you may be the type of person that finds motivation in collaboration, and can't do the solo thing. That's fine...everyone is different. But writing is for the most part a solo act, and I suspect many will benefit from this advice.
So don't tell anyone your goal to write a book. Keep it inside, and tell it - for the first time - on paper. Then, when it's complete, feel free to show everyone and collaborate!
Step 2: Write When You Don't Feel Like It
You're faced with a blank screen, fingers hovering over the keyboard. You want to write, but it suddenly seems hard. No...impossible. You glance at your phone, wondering if there's anything on Facebook/Twitter/etc. to check up on. You know what? You're just not inspired right now. In fact, you know exactly what you have: the dreaded Writer's Block.
Somehow, writers have managed to turn procrastination into a disease for which inspiration is the only cure. Doctors don't get Doctor's Block. Construction workers don't get it either. Accountants don't get it. So what is it?
Writer's block is caused by the (mostly false) belief that you need to be inspired to write.
Your muse, that strange, uncontrollable part of your mind that is the source of your creativity, is lazy. A damn, no good, lazy bastard. You need to kick it to make it work. Or find some other way to inspire it.
That's right...write. Put your fingers on the keyboard and start typing. See, at first your muse will remain silent. Your writing will be forced and uninspired. But as you write, ideas will start to flow, and you'll find yourself entering a groove. Your muse will start talking to you.
You need to write to become inspired, not the other way around.
This works for everything. All of your goals. I go to the gym and work out 5-6 days a week. And half the time I go, I don't feel like being there...at least for the first 10 minutes. But after that, I feel great...and I want to keep going and going. Studying medicine (or anything else) is hard and boring...until you force yourself to do it, then start to get interested in the material. Soon, you find yourself twenty pages in, and wonder where the time went.
An object in motion stays in motion. An object at rest stays at rest. Your muse is at rest until you apply an external force - your willpower - to put it in motion. And once you do, the words flow!
Step 3: Don't Expect Perfection
My father is an artist, and majored in art history in college. He was drawing on a large canvas, and filled a small part of it with something he adored...something just perfect. In fact, it was so good that he couldn't figure out how to fill the rest of his canvas. He hemmed and hawed.
And then his teacher tore up his perfect drawing.
My Dad was pissed.
His teacher told him that he'd gotten stuck because he'd considered what he'd done so precious that he couldn't move on from it. He couldn't finish the piece because he wanted all of it to be perfect. If it wasn't perfect, it was going to ruin that small part he'd started with.
Well, your writing is the same.
Many of us writers will start out trying to make every sentence, every paragraph perfect. We'll write a chapter, then revise it and revise it. Or we'll write a few paragraphs, and get stuck because we don't like it as much as what came before. Paralyzed by the pursuit of perfection, we don't keep going...we don't finish the story.
Well, a wise man once wrote that he was an average writer, but an excellent editor.
Write, and keep writing. Don't force any part of it to be perfect. And if you love the hell out of a chapter or two, don't hold the next chapters to the same expectation. Just keep going. Some of what you write will be crap, others will be gold. You always have time to edit the bad parts later...the point of the first draft is to FINISH THE STORY.
I'm going to repeat that.
The point of the first draft is to FINISH THE STORY.
You'll have all the time in the world to edit later, to sculpt your incomplete work into a veritable masterpiece. Back to my father, he started his next drawing, and focused on filling the canvas. Then he worked on each section of what he'd created, editing and editing until he was satisfied with the whole piece. Until the entire work of art was as perfect as that one, incomplete section.
Believe me when I tell you, the first draft of Runic Awakening, my first book, was utter crap. Awful awful awful. One day I might publish it, just to get a laugh from you. My brother read it and said, being ever the diplomat: "It's not good."
Now, a few of you might say it's still not good, (and I've read your soul-sucking Amazon reviews you know) but the point is, it's a whole hell of a lot better than it was.
So, once again, FINISH THE STORY.
Whelp, that's all for now. I'll post part 2 soon!